Interview Embracing New Technology Drives Baker Consultants’ Growth

Interview: Embracing New Technology Drives Baker Consultants’ Growth

Baker Consultants Limited, a seven year-old ecological consultancy that recently began work on Gode Wind 1 & 2 offshore wind sites, has experienced significant growth in the last few years and proved its competence within the offshore wind industry by working on two major projects, including Borkum Riffgrund 1.

In an interview with Offshore WIND, the company highlighted the use of new technology as one of main drivers of its business growth.

“The key aspect of our work that has changed over the last seven years is our use of new technology.

“Ecology is a surprisingly conservative profession and often very slow to adopt new ways of working. However, we are determined to embrace technological developments and have done so very successfully,” Andrew Baker, Managing Director at Baker Consultants said.

He added that the company has access to the latest survey equipment through cooperation with a number of innovative companies, which provide the technology. “Ultimately, this all means that our clients get a more cost effective service and we can provide data that is reliable and defensible.”

Going offshore a natural step forward

In 2013, Baker Consultants launched a marine subsidiary and the company has reported average growth rates of more than 80% in the last two years. “Our focus on offshore renewables was borne out of our terrestrial bioacoustics work. We were well established in the terrestrial environment, so moving into the offshore industry was a natural, if quite a brave, step forward,” Baker explained.

Marine Technical Director, Dr Federica Pace, was the first to join the marine subsidiary, which has a strong focus on the offshore sector, and she now supervises a team that consists of a Senior Underwater Noise Consultant, a Marine Mammal Consultant, three Marine Consultants and an Assistant Marine Ecologist.

The first marine project for Baker Consultants was DONG Energy’s Borkum Riffgrund 1 offshore wind farm, for which it was commissioned by GeoSea NV to provide underwater noise and harbour porpoise monitoring during foundation installation.

“Reporting deadlines to the German regulator were very tight and we had to retrieve data as quickly as possible following the completion of each piling phase.

“This was particularly important, as we also had to maximise work carried out in the short time available before weather conditions changed, whilst also fitting around the piling schedule to ensure all data was captured.

“Our fast, efficient and flexible approach was instrumental in gaining sign-off for all of the monopile foundations from the German government,” Pace said.

Baker Consultants said that its proposal included using the best available technology coupled with its combined skills of noise monitoring and bioacoustics experience, allowing the analysis of vast amounts of data over a relatively short period of time to a high quality standard.

“Our success at Borkum Riffgrund gives us additional leverage for proposing such innovative techniques and methods on future offshore wind projects,” said Andrew Baker.

Offshore work snowballing; Gode Wind is just the latest

Following this initial contract for Borkum Riffgrund, Baker Consultants won marine-related projects in both Europe and South America. Our underwater noise and marine mammal monitoring service is truly international: we recently finished a nine-month project in Brazil and have just begun work on Gode Wind 1 and 2 offshore wind farms in Germany,” said Baker.

When asked if there are any significant differences in its work between Gode Wind, their latest offshore wind project, and Borkum Riffgrund 1, Federica Pace said: “There are no significant differences, although the reporting schedule for Gode Wind 1 and 2 is even stricter for the initial phase of the project and, as the monopiles are bigger, this project is more challenging in terms of meeting the noise thresholds.

“However, we are employing new, updated technology on Gode Wind that will make reporting even more efficient and reliable. Much of this innovation has come from our close working with suppliers, who are consequently better able to respond to our needs.”

The monitoring work on Gode Wind 1 & 2 is due to be completed by the end of November 2015.

Since GeoSea hired Baker Consultants for the second time on an offshore wind project, Offshore WIND wanted to know a bit more about the collaboration between the two companies.

“We were very pleased to be appointed again by GeoSea for Gode Wind 1 and 2, following the success of the Borkum Riffgrund 1 project. However, we never rest on our laurels, as our aim is to make every project better than the last.

“We have also worked with GeoSea on other projects outside the offshore wind sector, such as Sepetiba Bay in Brazil, which was carried out for Dragabras, a subsidiary of GeoSea’s parent company, DEME.

“This is a relationship that we aim to continue and we are looking at a number of future prospects worldwide,” said Andrew Baker.

Further expansion planned

The company’s marine team is involved in a wide range of projects, including renewable energy, and Baker Consultants plans further growth in both terrestrial and marine teams.

In particular, Baker Consultants plans to continue expanding its presence within the offshore renewables sector, focusing mainly on projects within the UK and other European countries.

“Recent and upcoming innovations in data analysis technology, particularly the move towards remote monitoring, is leading to more sophisticated, robust data and creating a safer environment for ecologists.

 “For these reasons, we believe technology advances will continue to drive the industry in this direction. As we are always seeking to innovate, we constantly look for new methods of data analysis in order to provide clients with the information they need to make the right development decisions.

“Therefore, we expect to continue to grow our bioacoustics and remote monitoring services, particularly within the offshore renewables sector” said Baker.

 

Interview brought to you by Adrijana Buljan and Armin Fazlić, Offshore WIND staff; 
Images: Baker Consultants